A local man died while on the telephone to Virgin Media, a court heard today.
The post-mortem hearing concerned Clive Pheebs, 43, who was attempting to report a fault on the line of a number he was trying to reach, when the death occurred.
"Mr Pheebs had noticed after many unsuccessful attempts to dial an unspecified number, that there was a possible fault on the line," said Coroner Donald Brigstock, "he was sure it was not his line at fault, but that of the company he was attempting to contact, as he had successfully recieved and dialled several calls himself already that day."
"Upon finding a number for BT Fault Reporting, after an extensive internet search, a 10 minute battle with an automated system ensued, in which he had to choose which department he required, which number he was calling from, what he'd had for breakfast and which colour underpants he'd chosen that morning. He finally reached a vaguely human being."
"The person was incapable of talking English, but what little Mr Pheebs could decipher, was that he was through to the wrong department. Another long wait ensued and after inputting 1's and 2's to denote where he was calling from and what his favourite television show was he reached another person, who promptly told him it was not their department, and he should 'try this number instead'."
Brigstock continued, "After hanging up and dialling the new number, Pheebs was then instructed to input more details through the handset, his telephone number, account details, inside leg measurement etc. After 27 minutes a genial young girl answered, only to tell him she was new and could he call back in five minutes when her line manager was back from his cigarette break."
"Unperturbed, Mr Pheebs duly left it ten minutes and retried the second number. He input his details once again, and after 24 minutes a young man answered, only to tell him it was not something they could help with as Virgin Media had taken over the line maintenance of the possibly faulty number."
Mr Pheebs asked the young man for a contact number, but was told it was against policy to give out competitors details. So he began searching the internet again.
53 minutes later Mr Pheebs had narrowed the contacts down to two possible numbers, which he could register his concern for the possible fault with.
The first began promisingly with a simple to use automated system, asking for account details, telephone number, hat size and sexual preference. He was immediately transferred to a queue, whose average waiting time was only 17 minutes.
Pheebs sat listening to a monotone elevator version of 'Greensleeves' for 32 minutes.
When he was finally greeted by a voice, he quickly described his problem. He was told he had come through to 'residential' and what he really wanted was 'business'. Unfortunately, due to a systems error at their end, they couldn't put him through, so could he 'ring this number instead?'.
Pheebs dialled the number, knowingly expectant of the next course of action.
After inputting his mothers maiden name, fathers ex-flatmate's chest size and girlfriends sisters ex-husbands index ring-finger size, he was entered into a queue. The average waiting time was only 28 minutes.
56 minutes later Sandy answered the telephone. Mr Pheebs explained his problem. Sandy asked the number he was attempting to dial. Mr Pheebs told him. Sandy asked if Mr Pheebs 'owned' the aformentioned line. Mr Pheebs replied 'no'.
"Apparently you can't report a fault on someone else's business line," said Brigstock, "and the consultant couldn't tell Mr Pheebs who owned the line, due to the Data Protection Act. Mr Pheebs asked what he could do, and was told he could try calling the company that were using the line and inform them he thought there was a fault."
Pheebs explained that if there was a fault on the line, then he couldn't get through to tell the company to contact the line owner to contact Virgin Media to tell them there was a fault!
"I'm sorry then sir, but I can't help you!" replied Sandy.
At this point Mr Pheebs' head exploded all over his downstairs hallway. He died instantly.
Brigstock put the death down to 'instantaneous severe traumatic stress syndrome', a form of stress which manifests under extreme conditions, and bursts every blood vessel in the head and brain instantly. Especially common in people who deal with call centres regularly.
Pheebs leaves behind a Scottish terrier called Barry and a spider-plant in need of water.
It is unsure if the company are yet aware of the possible fault on their line.